The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
1answer
72 views
+50

Help me find an early Old Norse dictionary (or even a grammar)

For some time I've been looking for a dictionary of Old Norse that reflects an early situation in the language; this kind of resource has been amazingly hard to find, for some reason. Most ...
0
votes
0answers
49 views

Translation of “Beowulf”

In the brief span of time I have studied this ancient poem, particularly verses 1829-30, I have read several translations. While observing each individual rendering of the text, it was evident to me ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

What is the word “spirituality” derived from? [closed]

What is the word spirtuality or spirit derived from? Is it's origin based on the Christian idea of the Holy Ghost, or perhaps something earlier, like how the Greeks and Romans believed in spirits? ...
4
votes
2answers
116 views

Is there a PIE feminising noun suffix?

I was wondering whether anyone knows the Proto-Indo-European equivalent of the Greek suffixes -ina (-ίνα) or -issa (-ισσα), or whether PIE has any different feminising suffixes that work similarly?
-1
votes
1answer
69 views

Is Classical Hebrew an Indo-European language?

Is Classical/Biblical Hebrew an Indo-European language? And/or - To what extent is Classical/Biblical Hebrew an Indo-European language?
4
votes
1answer
78 views

What were allophone rules for [r] in Old English and Middle English?

I gather that [r] (trill) was realized as [ɹ] in different dialects of Old English and Middle English, but when [r] was used, was it an allophone? In other words, did [r] vary predictably with [ɹ] ...
2
votes
2answers
390 views

What is this language? Is it an ancient language?

I have recently procured an artefact, which was excavated in Yemen. At the bottom of the artefact there is engraving as shown in the picture. Some of the letters (on two sides) look like Egyptian ...
0
votes
0answers
24 views

Consonantal innovations in Hungarian

The Hungarian language seems to have many phonetic features uncommon in other Uralic languages- for example, phonetic voicing in its stops and sibilants and the presence of a labiodental fricative ...
-1
votes
2answers
103 views

Word elements relating to ancient deities [closed]

Are there word elements, including suffixes, from Old English or other languages that have been linked to their ancient deities and the people that served them, to which these elements are still in ...
2
votes
1answer
110 views

Origin of world languages

I am currently setting to investigate on a subject in the history of languages, but as a self-taught outsider I am stuck before finding out some key words to start searching the Web. I want to ...
4
votes
3answers
173 views

Is there some intrinsic relationship between the nominative plural and genitive singular?

In Latin the similarity between the nominative plural and genitive singular is most striking: First: porta (Nom/Sing) and portae (Nom/Pl), portae (Gen/Sing) and portarum (Gen/Pl) Second: servus ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Jedediah → Jebediah: how?

Possibly, the name Jebediah derives from the name Jedediah. If so, then what phonological phenomenon is this an example of, and what are other examples of it?
-1
votes
1answer
105 views

Why some languages have developed so difficult compared to others?

Finnish is one of the most difficult language in the world. Swedish is one of the most easiest language in the world. Finland and Sweden are geographically located next to each other. What is the ...
10
votes
2answers
168 views

Current status of the controversy on the date of Indo-European dispersion

There are two conflicting theories about the dispersion of the people speaking proto-Indo-European (by which I mean the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, excluding Hittite and other ...
3
votes
0answers
85 views

What is known or believed about the origin of Semitic-type root-and-template morphology?

How does nonconcatenative morphology of the Semitic type (consonantal roots, vocalic templates + affixes) arise diachronically? It's pretty easy to see how a nonconcatenative inflectional system ...
7
votes
0answers
157 views

How diachronically stable are color terms?

I have two questions concerning words for colors, one specific and one general. First, Beekes in Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction (p. 181) reconstructs a PIE suffix –no- that ...
-1
votes
4answers
297 views

Why is Edenics not recognized as a serious linguistic theory?

Many people know the Biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, when God broke apart the world's singular language into 70 different branches. Most linguists don't give this a second thought, or anything ...
3
votes
2answers
105 views

Germanic comparative grammars?

Can anyone recommend a good comparative grammar of the Germanic languages -- or, failing that, good historical grammars specifically for Old English and Old Norse? Ideally, what I want is a ...
3
votes
1answer
131 views

Use of forks/chopsticks and sound change?

Apparently [European] humans had an ape-like bite until relatively recently, with our top and bottom incisors aligned along their edges. With the invention of the fork around 250 years ago, our ...
7
votes
2answers
212 views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
9
votes
2answers
270 views

Are Old French and French mutually intelligible?

In Les visiteurs (The Visitors), two Frenchman from 1123 are transported to 1993. In the movie, the visitors from 1123 can understand the speech of the modern French people in 1993, and vice versa, ...
5
votes
3answers
607 views

Why are many ancient languages so complicated compared to many modern languages?

Many ancient languages have a structure that is more complex than that of the "respective" modern languages. Modern languages like English have simpler structure, without case, gender or declination, ...
6
votes
0answers
279 views

Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

Following Sklivvz's advice, I propose here a question I made in Italian Language. Because I am not sure how I should do this, I will just copy/paste the whole lot. Let's count in Latin from one to ...
6
votes
4answers
286 views

Did a “cave man-style” language ever exist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether a "cave man-style" language was likely to have ever existed. You know, the stereotypical "Fire bad! Need hunt, go tree-place now!" sort of ...
0
votes
0answers
62 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
3
votes
1answer
158 views

How did a logographic orthography like Chinese organize its word-stock before any type of phonetic notation?

Let's say you were to to pick up a dictionary and look up a word in Chinese before the advent of any type of phonetic notation system such as Pinyin or Bopomofo. How would words in that dictionary be ...
3
votes
2answers
123 views

The “affectee-subject HAVE” construction in English

English has a somewhat unusual construction exemplified by sentences like the following: He had his car stolen. He had his house repossessed. He's had three books published. These are different ...
0
votes
0answers
67 views

Writer/math student seeking an overview of linguistics. Help?

I am a math and statistics student/enthusiast as well as a fiction writer with cultivated interest in a few foreign languages. Linguistics has held appeal to me for many years, but I admit to having ...
1
vote
0answers
50 views

Grice's cooperative principless

Based on Pragmatics Approach, there is one of the principle that involves in communication. It is cooperative principle. This principle consists of 4 maxims. There are maxim of quality (Truthful), ...
1
vote
1answer
493 views

Missing Devanagari letters in Hindi

Sanskrit and Hindi both use the Devanagari script. It it interesting to note that there are letters which are used by only one of these languages and not the other. Used only in Sanskrit are letters ...
6
votes
1answer
194 views

How do we know that Ancient Greek didn't have ejectives?

Ancient Greek had a three way contrast between voiced, unvoiced, and aspirated stops. It seems to be assumed that the unvoiced stops were pulmonic, but how do we know this? A fact that may or may not ...
1
vote
1answer
180 views

Linguistics, a discipline or a field?

This is a two-fold level questions. Question about linguistics from the view point of linguistics. I am interested whether linguistics is a field of science/research or is it a discipline? The next ...
1
vote
2answers
660 views

Why is English spelling so inconsistent?

English spelling is in many respects not phonetic and there is often no one-to-one mapping between spelling and pronunication. E.g. 'a' is /ej/ or /ey/ instead of /a/ as in Albert 'c' is /s/ not ...
2
votes
1answer
120 views

Word list sought based on corpus of 19th century scientific English

I am currently working on an M.Phil thesis which is focusing on topic modelling 19th century journals. The journals in question are science, literature and antiquities based. I have extracted the ...
2
votes
1answer
295 views

In which modern-day country's borders did Arabic start?

We had a discussion going in the Travel Chat about where the Arabic language originated (assuming borders had stayed the same throughout history). Some websites have suggested Egypt, others Yemen, ...
5
votes
4answers
423 views

Are there countries in the world whose names differ in different languages, apart from Germany?

Germany is called with different names in different languages, as a result of the different tribes who populated it through time, who originated the names. A comprehensive reference for this is in the ...
2
votes
3answers
87 views

What is the most ancient form of Armenian verb 'to be'?

The infinitive form of the verb in Eastern Armenian (provided there are infinitives) is a suppletive 'linEl'. I am surprised to notice its resemblance to most Finno-Ugric words of similar meaning, ...
2
votes
1answer
130 views

What is the history of Eastern and Western Armenian dialects?

Are there any regular phonetical correspondences between grammatical patterns of both dialects? Which one is thought to be the 'real' Armenian? When and how did the dialects split? Is Western ...
1
vote
1answer
477 views

What are those languages with no one-to-one correspondence between sound and written symbol?

English is not one of those, while German should be. Italian is one of those and French is not. So it seems that this feature does not depend on the linguistic similarity and historical relation among ...
6
votes
1answer
790 views

Why did English stop using thou?

In Shakespearean English, thou/thee/thy/thine were used for second person singular, and you/your/yours were used for second person plural. In modern English, you is used for both singular and plural. ...
15
votes
2answers
299 views

On the idea that Classical Chinese may *not* be direct ancestor of modern Chinese languages

It's known that Literary Chinese (or Classical; wényán ), the language of historical Chinese texts, differs completely from modern Mandarin as well as from other spoken Chinese languages, not only in ...
11
votes
3answers
324 views

When were there the most languages?

A friend recently asked me this simple and fascinating question. At what point in history were there the largest number of human languages? Although a really precise answer needs a clear ...
1
vote
1answer
228 views

Are there any other examples of words being borrowed via their written forms only (or written forms causing reevaluations of spoken forms)?

Chinese dialects, Korean, and Japanese all use Chinese characters in their writing systems, at least in some capacity. Chinese trivially so, Japanese through Kanji, and Korean through Hanja. As to be ...
4
votes
3answers
625 views

Origin of articles in European languages

I read that PIE, Latin, old English, and even old German did not use articles, yet current English, German and Romance languages all use articles. Is it true that articles developed in all these ...
4
votes
0answers
216 views

Would a “Proto-World” language have any long-lasting effect on today's languages?

To what extent would a so-called "Proto-World" language (if there ever was such a thing) have affected the languages spoken today? How greatly would such a language have guided the future state of ...
5
votes
0answers
335 views

Is there a diagram showing the history of sound changes from Latin to the Romance languages?

We have had a number of questions about sound changes, asking for the history of specific changes. See this one, for example: asking about the change from Latin benedictionem to French beneiçon. ...
3
votes
0answers
62 views

Particular verbal inflection classes in “The Proclamation of Henry III”

I'm reading a document about "The Proclamation of Henry III", in which the text is presented and a short commentary and glossary follow. I'm interested in the survival of some of the distinct verbal ...
3
votes
3answers
286 views

How did 'cocodrilo' originate from 'crocodile'?

The English word crocodile seems to originate from the Latin crocodīlus and Ancient Greek κροκόδιλος. Indeed it has ended up very similar in several modern languages: German (Krokodile), Russian ...
-1
votes
1answer
403 views

What are the job opportunities in linguistics? [closed]

I like learning new languages so I am curious in getting a degree in linguistics. What kind of jobs are available as a linguist? What are the opportunities available in this field? From what I am ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

How much evidence of written language is needed to accurately define English in a particular period of history?

In older variations of English in history, how much evidence of written language samples is needed to accurately define the grammar and usage of that period? For example, if we want to define how ...